Creating the life sciences of the future through exploration and analysis of fundamental biological phenomena

  Biological phenomena are among the most important and fascinating research themes in the life sciences. We approach our research from the perspective of biochemistry, both basic and applied, which means that we take a chemically based view of biological phenomena and attempt to explain them in chemical terms. Our aim is to uncover the essence of the diverse and complex phenomena observed in humans and other high-level eukaryotic organisms. To do this we use the latest methods to systematically investigate the genes and proteins enclosed in the cellular envelope which are the vehicles of life, the intracellular transmission of various kinds of biological data, and the mechanisms involved in interactions between cells, proteins, and genes. We are also active in applied biotechnology research, which seeks to advance the development and wellbeing of humankind by rapidly converting basic research findings into practical uses.


1. Using genomic information and the latest techniques to analyze complex biological phenomena at molecular level

  Biological data transmission systems, which in high-level eukaryotic organisms underpin biological phenomena such as morphogenesis and development, rely on an interdependent series of complex physical and chemical processes involving huge numbers of molecules. Introducing new and systematic analytical techniques alongside conventional biochemical methodology, we attempt to elucidate complex biological processes at molecular level by studying cells from yeasts, Arabidopsis thaliana, zebra fish, mouse, and other model eukaryotic organisms in which genomic decoding is advancing.

2. Expanding biological functions through bio- and nano-technology

  In order to exploit the functions of living organisms in a wide range of fields, we undertake research which utilizes an understanding of the basic principles of bio-phenomena to modify genomic information and thereby access latent capabilities in living organisms or endow them with novel functions. We led the world in the development of cell-surface engineering, a relevant technique which makes use of the address (signal sequence) information contained in proteins and whose revolutionary approach has allowed the creation of many new cell types. This development has continued with the establishment of a completely new field in biochemistry known as combinatorial bioengineering and through fusion with nanotechnology and other fields to create the concept of nano-biotechnology. Through these, we look forward to creating new bioactive proteins and cells which transcend the limitations of known genomic information.

Developing useful microorganisms and novel bio-research tools for understanding life phenomena (Kuroda group)
  We aim to elucidate the mechanism of stress tolerance at the molecular level by trans-omics analysis while also creating microorganisms with useful functions such as improved stress tolerance. We have established a yeast “cell surface engineering” technology that can be used to freely design cell surface functions using genomic information, and are applying it to a wide range of fields based on metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and molecular tolerance engineering. In addition, we are developing an artificial control technology for transcription, a process that plays an important role for almost all life phenomena, as well as a new technology for editing mitochondrial and genomic DNA.

Key words:Molecular tolerance engineering, Cell surface engineering, Metabolic engineering, Synthetic biology, Adaptive evolution, Environmental biotechnology, Biorefinery, Resource recovery, Nitrogen fixation, Trans-omics analysis, Mutant libraries, Artificial transcription factors, Transcriptional control, Chromatin structure control, Genome editing, Mitochondrial engineering

Understanding complex biological processes by data-driven science (Aoki group)
  Complex biological processes are phenomena caused by interactions between many biological components. To understand such a complex processes, data-driven science, in which an enormous amount of data is accumulated in a hypothesis-free manner, can be very powerful tool. In recent studies, we have proposed novel data-driven methodologies such as functional cellomics and constructive genetics, and been trying to understand complex biological processes, e.g., neural network and genetic network.

Key words:Brain, Neural network, Behavior, Consciousness, Comprehensive analysis, Bias-free analysis, Machine learning, Optogenetics, Artificial cell, Constructive genetics, Synthetic biology